Annual MLK Day Celebration to Begin with Rally on Campus

The 18th annual community march celebrating the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. will begin with a rally at the Martin Luther King Jr. Statue on the East Mall at The University of Texas at Austin at 9 a.m. on Jan. 16.

"We are honored to welcome community members, faculty, staff and students as they begin the annual march from the university to the state Capitol and on to Huston-Tillotson University," said Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement. "The march is a reminder of the tremendous efforts and personal sacrifices of those in the civil rights movement, and we hope it encourages participants to work for equity and social justice now."

Bill Powers, president of The University of Texas at Austin, will provide the welcome. State Rep. Dawnna Dukes; Omi Osun Joni Jones, associate professor in the African and African Diaspora Studies Department; and Edmund T. Gordon, chair of the African and African Diaspora Studies Department, will speak. The event will include performances by the Innervisions Gospel Choir and the winner of the MLK Oratory Contest from Campbell Elementary School.

Dukes will be the grand marshal as marchers proceed from the statue to the Capitol, where the Greater Mount Zion Church Choir will perform. The march will continue from the Capitol to Huston-Tillotson University, 900 Chicon St., where a community festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The festival will feature performances by Les and the Funk Mob, MirrorImage Dem Twinz, the Nelson Saga Band and the Ugly Elephant Band.

This year, marchers are being asked to donate canned goods or nonperishable food items to be donated to the Capital Area Food Bank.

The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration has previously drawn up to 15,000 people, according to the Austin Area Heritage Council, which coordinates events. The celebration events are sponsored by multiple community organizations, including the university's John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies.

Free parking will be available at The University of Texas at Austin's UFCU Disch-Falk Field and the state parking garage at 12th and San Jacinto streets, as well as several churches and schools on East 11th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Other activities in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day planned by the Austin Area Heritage Council include the United Way's Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service starting at Huston-Tillotson University at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 14, and a classical music performance by Ghanian-American pianist William Chapman Nyaho on Sunday, Jan. 15, at 3 p.m. at the Metropolitan AME Church located at 1101 E. 10th St. More information about each event and parking is available online.